Students experience virus safety changes firsthand at workplaces


This story was originally published in the fourth edition of The Lion’s Tale (February 7, 2021).

The coronavirus pandemic has forced businesses to make numerous changes to their day-to-day operations, including safety measures to limit the spread of the virus.

Several Oviedo High School students have experienced these changes first hand at their workplaces.

Drive-throughs have been especially convenient for customers during the pandemic, as they are fast, easy, and social-distancing-friendly.

Junior Amari Coleman, who works at Panera Bread, feels that the pandemic and resulting increase in people looking to avoid face-to-face interaction has led to an uptick in the popularity of the drive-through.

“We are busier now because more people are coming to the drive-through instead of indoor dining,” Coleman said.

Panera Bread has implemented their own guidelines to keep their customers and staff safe. Coleman thinks the virus has caused greater recognition of the importance of cleanliness and hygiene in general.

“Safety precautions we take include mandated masks, chang[ing] gloves every time you do a new task and wash[ing] hands frequently,” Coleman said. “Working before the pandemic was more careless with health precautions, and now we take cleanliness very seriously.”

Five Guys has also taken more safety precautions because of the pandemic, according to junior Maya Woodard, who works there.

“We clean constantly and our free peanuts are now pre-packaged so people aren’t allowed to touch them themselves,” Woodard said.

Though Five Guys does not, unlike many fast-food and fast-casual restaurants, have a drive-through, they do offer curbside pickup, another option that accommodates social distancing. For Five Guys, the virus has actually accompanied an increase in sales, according to Woodard.

“Business has increased a lot since [the pandemic], and we beat our records every week,” Woodard said.

Just like Five Guys, Chick-fil-A has also seen a great rise in sales and continues to break their own sales records, according to senior Zakaria Zakaria, a Chick-fil-A employee.

“Our business has been steadily increasing in the past few months, and although we are in the midst of a global pandemic we continue to break sales records,” Zakaria said.

Visitors to the popular chicken restaurant in recent months have likely noticed the sanitary measures it has put into place.

“During the summer we were required to wear face masks, face shields and gloves at all times, but since we no longer have to wear face shields and gloves, except when preparing food, we also are required to wash our hands every hour and try our best to socially distance ourselves,” Zakaria said.

Chick-fil-A has also modified their dine-in experience to account for the virus.

“Although we do not require our guests to wear face masks, we highly encourage it in the store,” Zakaria said. “We also have socially distanced our tables and prefer that guests who dine in use their app to order food in order to reduce [our] contact with the guest.”

Zakaria also feels that the pandemic has given him and his co-workers some valuable experience and improved the productivity and efficiency of the workplace.

“[Our performance has been] affected positively, as we now have a more productive and efficient drive through, since from April to August we operated on a drive-through only service,” Zakaria said. “With that we have been able to learn how to efficiently move our drive-through faster. There has not really been a negative effect other than having to wear a mask, but that’s for the safety of ourselves and our guests.”